Harper’s Magazine has published a fascinating letter in the face of largely leftist cancel culture.
The letter from many famous liberals including authors, media types and pundits like Margaret Atwood, J.K. Rowling, M.I.T. far left Noam Chomsky, and even activist Gloria Steinem calls out how far the left is going in the wake of the death of George Floyd.
While they praise protests and moves toward racial justice, they warn of the “forces of illiberalism” which are “gaining strength,” and caution that the “resistance must not be allowed to harden into its own brand of dogma.”
[C]ensoriousness is also spreading more widely in our culture: an intolerance of opposing views, a vogue for public shaming and ostracism, and the tendency to dissolve complex policy issues in a blinding moral certainty. We uphold the value of robust and even caustic counter-speech from all quarters. But it is now all too common to hear calls for swift and severe retribution in response to perceived transgressions of speech and thought. More troubling still, institutional leaders, in a spirit of panicked damage control, are delivering hasty and disproportionate punishments instead of considered reforms. Editors are fired for running controversial pieces; books are withdrawn for alleged inauthenticity; journalists are barred from writing on certain topics; professors are investigated for quoting works of literature in class; a researcher is fired for circulating a peer-reviewed academic study; and the heads of organizations are ousted for what are sometimes just clumsy mistakes. Whatever the arguments around each particular incident, the result has been to steadily narrow the boundaries of what can be said without the threat of reprisal. We are already paying the price in greater risk aversion among writers, artists, and journalists who fear for their livelihoods if they depart from the consensus, or even lack sufficient zeal in agreement.
You noticed? This has been going on for quite awhile with the left but admittedly has sped up in the last two months, quite frankly in a scary way, to shut down all debate.
Now while these folks on the left try to get in a knock on President Donald Trump and naturally consign him with the “forces of illiberalism” of which they warn, what’s interesting about the letter is its clear warning to about their own side going too far and approaching the slide.
How obvious must it be to flag it and bother these folks?
While it’s a great thing that 150 of them get it, it really should be thousands more, although admittedly likely thousands are supportive and not everyone may have the name power to feel brave enough to say it like these folks. Doubtless these folks are hoping their letter will crystallize that resistance to the resistance going too far.
But we have been telling them where this is going, it’s always been inherent in the nature of progressivism and far left thought.
HT: Hot Air